Another Successful Day at the Office
In the middle of the Mashatu bush, in the early hours of the morning, I was woken by the loud roar of a male lion. I was hesitant to get out of bed and shine my touch to see if the lion was anywhere near my tent. I decided to climb back into bed. By the sound of the roar, the lion was not that close to the camp.
At 5:30 am while everyone was getting ready for their morning activity, I heard the same lion roaring at a distance. This time around I was not going to ignore the sounds. I quickly grabbed my shoes, put them on, and ran outside gathering all the students. Swiftly we all got into the game viewer and off we go in search of the lion, determined to find this king!
Photographs © Christoff Els
Tracking and Trailing
With our freshly prepared coffee at hand and the aroma hanging in the air, we headed towards Solomon’s Wall Ridge. We came across fresh lion tracks that showed the lion had passed there not so long ago. As we continued to track the lion, I realized that the lion’s pace was increasing as he was moving east along the Motloutse River. We then began to trail him for a good few hours. The tracks were now crossing the boundary line towards the other side of the concession, unfortunately, we could not cross over to the other side.
We decided to make use of the opportunity out in the bush and delight ourselves with another morning coffee. During our lovely coffee stop/break, we contemplate whether to continue the search or to call it a day. We decided to turn around and head back to camp after our nice coffee.
Photographs © Tere Abumohor
What a Pleasant Surprise?
During our ride back I was in deep thoughts contemplating about my unsuccessful trailing of the male lion. It was at that precise moment, nature decided to surprise us with a very handsome young male leopard on top of a tree near a watering hole. From a distance, there was a herd of impala and you could tell from the stair that he was hoping they would probably come closer. At that very moment, whatever he was thinking did not matter as we were all marveling at his beauty.
He eventually jumped off from the tree and began to shy away from it as we tried to follow him a bit. He then gracefully moved into the bush, that moment I began to smile and take in what my “office” as I call it has just produced. This by far became one of the most memorable moments to share with my guests since the beginning of their trip to Mashatu. And I officially said to myself, another successful day in the office, the greatest lion surprise!
About the Author:
Norman Chauke is a Tracking Instructor – He attends its EcoTraining Field Guide Level 1 course and went on to Tracker Academy where he qualified as a Lead Tracker. He also has his Trails Guide Back-up, FGASA Level 2, and CATHSSETA Assessor qualifications. Norman is the first-ever formally qualified African tracker assessor in South Africa.